OLD RATTLER
AND
THE KING SNAKE

By DAVID STARR JORDAN.
President of Leland Stanford, Junior, University.

From The Popular Science Monthly
I only know thee humble, bold,
Haughty, with miseries untold,
And the old curse that left thee cold,
And drove thee ever to the sun
On blistering rocks ...
Thou whose fame
Searchest the grass with tongue of flame,
Making all creatures seem thy game,
When the whole woods before thee run,
Asked but when all is said and done
To lie, untrodden, in the sun!

Bret Harte.

Save More Money On
ALL Your Insurance Needs

*

O, decorated with a rattlesnakeld Rattler was a snake, of course,
and he lives in the King s River Ca on, high up and down deep in the mountains of California.

He had a hole behind and below a large, flat granite rock, not far from the river, and he called it his home; for in it he slept all night and all winter, but when the sun came back in the spring and took the frost out of the air and the rocks, then he crawled out to lie until he got warm. The stream was clear and swift in the ca on, the waterfalls sang in the side gulch of Roaring River, the wind rustled in the long needles of the yellow pines, and the birds called to their mates in the branches. But Old Rattler did not care for such things. He was just a snake, you know, and his neighbors did not think him a good snake at that, for he was surly and silent, and his big, three-cornered, coffin-shaped head, set on a slim, flat neck, was very ugly to see. But when he opened his mouth he was uglier still, for in his upper jaw he had two long fangs, and each one was filled with deadly poison. His vicious old head was covered with gray and wrinkled scales, and his black, beadlike eyes snapped when he opened his mouth to find out whether his fangs were both in working order.

Old Rattler was pretty stiff when he first came from his hole on the morning of this story. He had lain all night coiled up like a rope among the rocks, and his tail felt very cold. But the glad sun warmed the cockles of his heart, and in an hour or two he became limber, and this made him happy in his snaky fashion. But, being warm, he began to be hungry, for it had been a whole month since he had eaten anything. When the first new moon of August came, his skin loosened everywhere and slipped down over his eyes like a veil, so that he could see nothing about him, and could not hunt for frogs by the river, nor for chipmunks among the trees. But with the new moon of September all this was over. The rusty brown old coat was changed for a new suit of gray and black, and the diamond-shaped checkers all over it were clean and shiny as a set of new clothes out to be.

There was a little striped chipmunk running up and down the sugar-pine tree over his head, pursing his little mouth and throwing himself into pretty attitudes, as though he were the centre of an admiring audience, and Old Rattler kept a steady eye on him. But he was in no hurry about it all. He must first get the kinks out of his neck, and the cold cramps from his tail. There was an old curse on his family, so the other beasts had heard, that kept him always cold, and his tail was the coldest part of all. So he shook it a little, just to show that it was growing limber, and the bone clappers on the end rustled with a sharp, angry noise. Fifteen rattles he had in all fifteen and a button and to have so many showed that he was no common member of his hated family. Then he shook his tail again, and more sharply. This was to show all the world that he, Old Rattler, was wide awake, and whoever stepped on him would better look out. Then all the big beasts and little beasts who heard the noise fled away just as fast as ever they could; and to run away was the best thing they could do, for when Old Rattler struck one of them with his fangs all was over with him. So there were many in the ca on, beasts and birds and snakes too, who hated Old Rattler, but only a few dared face him. And one of these was Glittershield, whom men call the King of Snakes, and in a minute I shall tell you why.

And when Old Rattler was doing all that I have said, the King Snake lay low on a bed of pine needles, behind a bunch of fern, and watched him with keen, sharp eye. The angry buzz of Rattler s tail, which scared the chipmunks and the bullfrogs and all the rest of the beast folk, was music for Glittershield. He was a snake, too, and snakes understand some things better than any of the rest of us.

Glittershield was slim and wiry in his body, as long as Old Rattler himself, but not so large around. His coat was smooth and glossy, not rough and wrinkly like Old Rattler s, and his upraised head was small and pretty for a snake. He was the best dressed of all his kind, and he looked his finest as he faced Old Rattler. His head was shiny black, his throat and neck as white as milk while all down his body to the end of his tail he was painted with rings, first white, then black, then crimson, and every ring was bright as if it had just been freshly polished that very day.

So the King Snake passed the sheltering fern and came right up to Old Rattler. Rattler opened his sleepy eyes, threw himself on guard with a snap and a buzz, and shook his bony clappers savagely. But the King of Snakes was not afraid. Every snake has a weak spot somewhere, and that is the place to strike him. If he hadn t a weak spot no one else could live about him, and then, perhaps he would starve to death at last. If he had not some strong points, where no one could harm him, he couldn t live himself.

As the black crest rose, Old Rattler s tail grew cold, his head dropped, his mouth closed, he straightened out his coil, and staggered helplessly toward his hole.

This was the chance for Glittershield. With a dash so swift that all the rings on his body red, white, and black melted into one purple flash, he seized Old Rattler by his throat. He carried no weapons, to be sure. He had neither fangs nor venom. He won his victories by force and dash, not by mean advantage. He was quick and strong, and his little hooked teeth held like the claws of a hawk. Old Rattler closed his mouth because he couldn t help it, and the fangs he could not use were folded back against the roof of his jaw.

The King Snake leaped forward, wound his body in a love-knot around Old Rattler s neck, took a half-hitch with his tail about the stomach, while the rest of his body lay in a curve like the letter S between the two knots. Then all he had to do was to stiffen up his muscles, and Old Rattler s backbone was snapped off at the neck.

All that remained to Glittershield was to swallow his enemy. First he rubbed his lips all over the body, from the head to the tail, till it was slippery with slime. Then he opened his mouth very wide, with a huge snaky yawn, and face to face he began on Old Rattler. The ugly head was hard to manage, but, after much straining, he clasped his jaws around it, and the venom trickled down his throat like some fiery sauce. Slowly head and neck and body disappeared, and the tail wriggled despairingly, for the tail of the snake folk can not die till sundown, and when it went at last the fifteen rattles and the button were keeping up an angry buzz. And all night long the King of Snakes, twice as big as he ought to be, lay gorged and motionless upon Old Rattler s rock.

And in the morning the little chipmunk ran out on a limb above him, pursed up his lips, and made all kinds of faces, as much as to say, I did all this, and the whole world was watching while I did it.

the end

This is a navigational menu tool.  Click anywhere to find a new and exciting exit to something we have that is wild and wonderful.  

Discover these great essays in the following folders
  Family  * Social  * War  *  Freedom  *  Money  * 

And then, we have these essays in the GENERAL ESSAYS category which don't seem to fit anywhere in particular:

By Reason Alone..  That Roosevelt can do no wrong is Burroughs's opinion; and that Burroughs is always right is Roosevelt 's opinion.  Both are agreed that animals do not reason.  They assert that all animals below man are automatons and perform actions only of two sorts 'mechanical and reflex 'and that in such actions no reasoning enters at all.  They believe that man is the only animal capable of reasoning and that ever does reason.

***

No man is an island, is an old saying that was meant to say that no man stood alone, but needed help from others, and gave strength to others.  But, here is the story of an island that was a man.  In the short history of time, there was one island that was a monument to a single man.  It starts out like a fairy tale.. Once upon a time there was a barren island.    This almost insignificant little man was sent off to this barren island and turned it into a mirror of his soul and the fulfillment of his vision.  One stick at a time he turned his barren island into a work of lasting, world-renowned beauty and peace, an island where the nightingales sang songs of singular wonder ne'er found elsewhere since this little man set down roots on a barren island, and bloomed. 

**

Have you ever noticed that most of man's dreams are based on false assumptions. We dream of loping free with the wolves, but really don't like fleas. We dream of the security that lambs must feel, but don't want to be sheared. We dream of being lions, but gag at eating raw meat. We dream of being loved, but can't see the way or take the time to make ourselves lovable.

Was There EVER A Man On The Moon?  How far can reason alone take us from the beaten path of acknowledged history?

***

A Definition Of History by Leo Tolstoy gives us yet another peg to hang our ratiocinations upon.

**

Definition of Art?

**

Charity never faileth, especially when our hearts fill to overflowing with charity.

**

When Theories fail.. Petty science teachers can rage until doomsday that no two snowflakes are identical, but until every snowflake that has ever fallen or ever shall fall is matched against every other snowflake that has already fallen or ever shall try to fall -- the identical snowflake theory remains just a theory resting on its oars out there in lolly-gagging land.

**

Deliberate Fraud:  Evolutionists resort to the lowest forms of fraud in order to gain more believers. Down and Dirty with Darwin  Evolutionists are now feeling so battered that university professors advise their students not to discuss this theory with non-believers.  "Sounds like a religious cult to me," say some.

**

Global Warming freezes thermometers 57 years ago there was this silly theory running through the kitchen that said "the quickest way to freeze ice was to fill the ice trays with boiling water. There are still a few old house wives that believe it works. These days it's the pseudo-scientists that believe global warm winds tearing through the polar regions will make the ice caps freeze solid and start a new ice age!

**

Man, the Meanie of the Planet.  This is a high resolution pdf document so you can print it out and hang it on the wall.  Be sure to RIGHT Click the link, and save it to your computer.

**

Fuzzy Logic Clarified This is another essay you will want to keep handy where you can print it out.

**

Are we forever Doomed?  An essayic poem by Rudyard Kipling

**

I see Grandpa. He's calling out for me.

**

God Does Not Fit  -- by Lance Nalley

**

That first day of school  

**

A Break From Boredom  --  by Lance Nalley

**

INVICTUS... Out of the night that covers me, Black as the Pit, from pole to pole 

**

The gods and Heroes of the Ancient World 

**

Staunch, steadfast, loyal and true.  What better friend can a man have?

***

The House By The Side Of The Road

**

Friendship, by Ralph Waldo Emerson.  A ruddy drop of manly blood The surging sea outweighs, The world uncertain comes and goes, The lover rooted stays. I fancied he was fled, And, after many a year, Glowed unexhausted kindliness Like daily sunrise there. My careful heart was free again, -- O friend, my bosom said, Through thee alone the sky is arched, Through thee the rose is red, All things through thee take nobler form, And look beyond the earth, And is the mill-round of our fate A sun-path in thy worth. Me too thy nobleness has taught To master my despair; The fountains of my hidden life Are through thy friendship fair.

**

This Web is MY Web  

**

A thing of beauty is a joy forever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.

The Moon on Six Pence Uncle Bob was an unforgettable character who traveled the world on bargain rates and golden smiles!

**

The Almost Good Housekeeping monograph is a good excuse for the harried homemaker to put off until tomorrow all those burdens of yesteryear, and quit trying so hard.

**

Sex before the Sax:  The first thing I learned about Lois was she had a label for being froward.  Kids at school said she had had sex with Alfred.  Not long after I arrived, another boy came forward to admit he had made a score at her door.

**

Old Rattler, and the King Snake. 

**

Pleasures of the open fire: The Fireplace Revisited.

Don't Make Us
Come Hunting For You

We want MORE Essays.  The writing inside the essays accepted here must be of superior quality.  The topics must be either timely or enduring in nature.  If you can pass that hurdle, your tightly written essays with strong values will be published here free of charge.  A link back to your home page, or to your email address will be provided inside your byline, IF you want it.  Click HERE to make your submission or to contact the owner for any reason. 

Children under the age of 13 MUST HAVE
 permission from parents before they can
 click on any of our links